Chicago Prepares for Possible Immigration Crackdown

Chicago is on the list of cities targeted for a large-scale immigration raid that could come as soon as Sunday, according to national reports – once again sparking fear among undocumented immigrants, after President Donald Trump had previously threatened and then postponed a similar Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation.

“There’s a lot of fear out there, and what’s most distressing to me is the fear in the hearts and in the eyes of children. We know that in a lot of these immigrant communities young people – as young as 10, 11, 12, who may be English speakers, who are the translators for their parents – but are getting exposed to this trauma and worry at such a young age,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday. “We need comprehensive immigration reform and I hope that the president is going to use the power of his office to really forge a solution that has eluded other presidents. But this fearmongering, and making immigrants scapegoats, and really disrupting families who are just here trying to life their life – that’s not who we are our should be as Americans.”

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Local immigration rights groups plan a Saturday rally, and are working to inform residents of their rights.

As a Welcoming City, Chicago will never tolerate the threat of ICE forcing our residents and families to live in fear,” Lightfoot press secretary Anel Ruiz said in a statement. Ruiz said that Lighfoot has directed the Chicago Police Department to not cooperate with ICE, and has cut ICE off from any CPD databases.

But such promises aren’t enough for some advocates, who are calling on Lightfoot to put those words into action by signing an executive order.

They’re also pushing the Chicago City Council later this month to advance an ordinance that closes what activists say are “loopholes” in the city’s current sanctuary city measure.

Rey Wences, of the Chicago Immigration Working Group, an alliance of immigrant rights organizations, said the current status still allows the Department of Homeland Security to access the police department’s gang database, and allows police to cooperate with ICE if someone has an outstanding criminal warrant, is convicted of a felony, or has a felony charge pending.  

Often, immigrants living in the county illegally face obstacles to getting quality legal representation, Wences said.  

“We believe that the city should not in any shape or form be feeding the deportation machine,” said Wences.

“Earlier this month, Mayor Lightfoot was definitive in her directive to CPD not to cooperate with or facilitate any ICE effort to target migrant families, and we will continue to object to any planned raids this weekend,” mayoral spokeswoman Ruiz said. “The City continues to work closely with community groups and other organizations in the face of this latest threat and to continue defending the rights of our immigrant and refugee communities who call Chicago home.”

Meanwhile, Trump on Thursday announced that he will stop trying to add a question to the forthcoming 2020 census asking about individuals’ legal residency or citizenship status, but vowed to get an accurate count of citizens versus non-citizens via other means: an executive order.

Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @AmandaVinicky

Related stories:

Trump Administration Plans Immigration Enforcement Operation

Trump Abandons Bid to Include Citizenship Question on Census

Chicago Remains in Limbo as Trump Stalls Immigration Raids

Activists Step Up Trainings Amid Trump Deportation Threats

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